From Labourer to Landowner

When Thomas Casbon, my third great grandfather, left England in 1846, he was an Agricultural Labourer – a general term that applied to the majority of the population, and meaning someone who worked for wages in various kinds of agricultural settings. [1] Within half a dozen years of arriving in Ohio he realized the immigrant’s dream of owning land and working his own farm. I’ve recently come across records that show when and where he purchased land in Ohio.

In earlier posts, “From England to Indiana” parts 3 and 4, I described how Thomas sailed from England and settled in Ohio. I don’t know how Thomas was able to afford the voyage, nor how he supported his family in the early years after his arrival. Perhaps he was able to save enough of his wages to pay for passage to America, or maybe others loaned him the money. After arriving in Ohio, it’s likely that he received some kind of temporary support, financial or otherwise, from his brother in law, James Scruby, who lived in Wayne County, Ohio.

As to how he supported his family, I suspect he initially sought work as a farm laborer until he could save enough to purchase his own land. Or maybe he was able to rent some property. At any rate, his first few years in America probably involved some hardship and a lot of hard work.

By 1850, Thomas was able to make his first land purchase. In this deed, Emmett Eddy and his wife Mary sold 80 acres to Thomas and another man, James Wing, for the sum of two-thousand dollars. [2] The land was described as the east half of the northeast quarter of section 8, township 18, range fourteen. This is located about 11 miles southwest of Wooster, Ohio.

Record copy of deed for land sale to Thomas Casbon and James Wing, October 1st, 1850, Wayne County, Ohio (Click on image to enlarge)

Why did Thomas and James Wing buy the land jointly? My guess would be that it was difficult for them to raise the necessary funds individually.

Thomas and James were well acquainted – the 1850 census shows them living under the same roof! [3]

Detail from 1850 census showing Thomas Casbon and his family, with James Wing listed in same household (Click on image to enlarge)

According to the census record, James was 26 years old; a farmer; and like Thomas, from England. On March 13, 1852, he sold his portion of the land to Thomas for four hundred dollars, giving Thomas sole possession of the 80 acres. [4] James disappears from sight after this. There are no records of subsequent land transactions involving him in Wayne or nearby Holmes county. Maybe he decided to seek his fortune elsewhere.

So, by 1852 Thomas was sole owner of an 80-acre farm. An index of deeds for Wayne County also shows that Thomas purchased some additional land in the county in 1853. [5] I don’t have access to that deed, so I don’t know the details other than general location.

Detail of Wayne County, Ohio, map, showing approximate locations of Thomas Casbon’s land purchases; source: Baker’s map of Wayne Co., Ohio (Philadelphia: Baker & Gager, 1856); digital image, Library of Congress ( : accessed 6 January 2016) (Click on image to enlarge)

Thomas’ land purchases in Wayne County open up a mystery – when did he sell his property? I know that he began to purchase land in adjacent Holmes County in 1855 (a subject for a future post). By the time of the 1860 census, he was living in Holmes County. [6] I have scoured the index of deeds for Wayne County up to about 1883 or so, long after he moved to Indiana, and haven’t found a single record for land sold by Thomas.

[1] “Agriculture and the Labourer,” Cambridgeshire History ( : accessed 5 January 2017).
[2] Wayne County, Ohio, “Deed books, v. 34, 36 1850-1852,” v. 34, pp. 293-4, Emmett Eddy to Casbon & Wing entry, 2 November 1850; browsable images of FHL microfilm 420,933, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 November 2016), images 164-5.
[3] Ohio, Wayne County 1850 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 July 2016).
[4] Wayne County, Ohio, “Deed books, v. 37-38 1852-1853,” v. 37, pp. 233-4, James Wing to Thomas Casbon entry, 15 March 1852; browsable images of FHL microfilm 420,934, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 November 2016), images 28-9.
[5] Wayne County, Ohio, “Deed index, v. 1 ca. 1813-1863,” p.111, Geo W. Riffle to Casbin Thomas entry, 1853; browsable images of FHL microfilm 420,913, FamilySearch ( : accessed 6 January 2017), image 117.
[6] Ohio, Wayne County 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. Database with images. FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 August 2016).

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